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Faster isn’t always better. In a world of convenience and lack of time, great efforts have been made to save time and increase efficiency for us all. Innovators have created devices and processes that increase our quality of life and give us more time for the important things. But, faster isn’t better when people are concerned. Take parenting, for instance.
Every time I speak to people about teaching their children how to change their hearts toward self-governing their behaviors, parents will say, “How long is this going to take? I’m in crisis right now.”
To this question I speak the truth: “Learning to govern yourself isn’t a trick or quick fix; it is a lifelong pursuit for children and parents. In fact, it is the most important of our life’s accomplishments.”
I suppose this could turn people off, but it shouldn’t. When a person talks of changing a heart, or instilling character and virtue, should that be on a get-it-done-quickly-check-off list? Logic and history shows us that kind of change happens over time and through different stages of development. The key to success is knowing the family or the person is on the correct path. The principled path may seem like the more tedious path, but it has always proven to be the successful path as well.
In the book, “This Day…And Always,” Richard L. Evans enlightens the mind about how we can’t take short cuts to any destination in mind, like parenting. He said:
“We may turn out automobile and airplane motors with an ever-increasing speed, but we can’t build character faster than a man lives, faster than he gains experience, faster than he learns to cherish principles. We can increase the production of household conveniences, but we can’t find intelligence where it doesn’t exist, or integrity where it hasn’t been planted and nurtured. We can pour concrete across the course of a racing river, but we can’t pour honesty, courage, fidelity, devotion and self-reliance into our children in any way except the old-fashioned way — the hard way, as some would now describe it.”
So, making an angry face at a child, manipulating the child by counting to 3, threatening the child when we want him or her to follow an instruction, or using physical force or angry words to show power, to correct, or to make a point are really just parents trying to take the fast track. The fast track is the track that’s less governed, less thought out, less principled, and a less-planned path to parenting. These emotionally charged types of correcting and teaching children encourage parents and children to feel powerless and disconnected from each other, which makes our homes feel less safe.
A feeling of safety and unity in the home increases self-confidence, personal power and self-government.
What Success Really Looks Like
So, next time your blood is starting to boil because the children are talking back or getting distracted instead of doing their homework or chores — and you want the behavior stopped now — don’t do what many parents rationalize as the quickest path: yelling, scolding, emotionally manipulating or giving up. Instead, take the time need to do an effective correction. Discuss what they are doing, what they should be doing, and give them the opportunity to learn cause and effect by allowing them to do an extra chore for a negative consequence.
Additionally, the not-so-fast track to parenting spends lots of time practicing things the right way so that they can be repeated again in the future. So, before your child willingly runs off to do his extra chore (which does actually happen if the child knows beforehand how you will correct and the looming negative consequences that await for negative behavior), take some time to do some role play practices with him. Bond as you correct and prepare for future success.
Yes, this is the long way to character development, self-government and a change of heart. But it is the sweet-tasting road and the positive parenting path to lifelong behavior and problem-solving success.
It’s okay, take the long road. “…there is no short cut to any worthwhile horizon, where man himself is concerned.” (Richard L. Evans, “This Day…And Always…”)
And remember, it is never too late to have a change of heart. If you or your children have already taken some fast tracks and failed, it’s always possible to start fresh with each new day.
You can refresh your self-government knowledge and skills by attending the Teaching Self-Government “Parenting With Power, Purpose and Peace Conference.” Details here!